Infosys former chairman R Seshasayee hit out at company founder NR Narayana Murthy on Friday for carrying out “personal attacks” and making “false and slanderous accusations” against him, saying he was unable to understand the motivation for the persistent vendetta.
Seshasayee, who along with three other directors quit from the board of Infosys after Murthy rallied other co-founders and institutional investors to bring back peer Nandan Nilekani, said he had always been candid and truthful in all his statements concerning Infosys.
“Since my resignation from the board of Infosys, I have kept away from making any public statements, despite provocations, since I sincerely want the company to move forward, and not be bogged down with the issues of the past,” he said, adding that he was forced to issue a statement after Murthy’s “personal attack and patently false and slanderous accusations” at an investor call earlier this week.
Days after installing Nilekani, Murthy had on August 29 stated that his concerns with the previous board led by Seshasayee were poor governance and ex-CFO Rajiv Bansal being paid large severance as ‘hush-money’.
Seshasayee said Murthy’s statement to the investors “misleadingly attributes words” to him, words taken “completely out of context” to make it appear that he had lied.
Murthy had in his investor call said that Seshasayee had on October 14 told him that the board agreed to pay Bansal large sum of money as it “felt generous”.
“To quote an anonymous whistle blower letter that alleged many things, which have subsequently been proved baseless and false through multiple investigations by highly respected counsel, in order to give an impression to the audience that I lied to the shareholders, is patently offensive,” he said.
Also, words that Murthy attributes to independent directors Jeff Lehman and Roopa Kudva from their private conversation with him are also “egregiously taken out of context,” he said.
Murthy had stated that Lehman had told him that the reasons for payment to Bansal were confidential while Kudva asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement if he wanted to know the reasons.
“It is regrettable that Murthy ‘s campaign on the alleged governance lapses has continually slipped into personal attacks and slander on individual board members,” he said.
Seshasayee said he joined Infosys at the invitation of Murthy, who in February this year issued a press statement to say that “I was a man of high integrity.”
“I am therefore at a loss to understand the motivations for this persistent vendetta against me,” he said.
The same statement went on to quote Jeffrey Lehman, a former of director of Infosys who also resigned recently, to say that Murthy should stop quoting “lies” floated in the anonymous letter on ex-CFO compensation and alleged irregularities in $200 million acquisition of Israeli firm Panaya.
“For the good of Infosys, I wish Murthy would stop quoting those lies as if they were reputable. For the good of Infosys, I wish Murthy would stop defaming Seshasayee and the other members of a Board who have served with dedication and integrity, who have turned the other cheek when slandered, and who have acted only in the best interests of the company,” he said.
He said during his tenure, Seshasayee was “scrupulously and tirelessly devoted to ensuring that the Board comply with all applicable principles of law and governance.”
“An anonymous, so-called ‘whistle blower’ made outrageous charges against management; the Board engaged several sets of outside counsel and investigators of impeccable reputation, and those investigators determined that every charge was false and without any foundation,” he said.
The statement also quoted John Etchemendy, another former Director of Infosys who also resigned recently from the Board, to say that Seshasayee is “a man of impeccable integrity. Faced with unfair, false, and outrageous attacks, he has consistently responded with scrupulous honesty and forthrightness.”
He said he was “fully conversant with the details of the Rajiv Bansal issue” and can categorically state that at no point did Seshasayee say “anything in public or, to the best of my knowledge, in private that was untrue or did not reflect the collective view of the Board.”